Head & Neck (Throat) Surgical Oncology (Cancer)

This year, nearly 65,000 people will develop head and neck cancer in the U.S. In the Gulf South region, one of the leading treatment centers for these kinds of cancers is Ochsner. With a combination of state-of-the-art imaging, minimally invasive techniques and a level of experience second to none, we make important decisions about the extent of the treatment required. We do all we can to preserve your appearance as well as your abilities to speak, swallow, taste and hear. We’re not here only to save your life – we’re relentless about preserving the quality of your life.

Why Ochsner

At Ochsner, you’ll find award-winning, patient-centered, specialty care by professionals who, by and large, treat these kinds of cancers exclusively. The Ochsner Head and Neck Surgical Oncology program is composed of a multi-disciplinary team includes:

  • Nationally renowned board-certified, fellowship-trained surgeons
  • Radiation and medical oncology experts
  • A nurse practitioner who treats patients and also heads up our Survivorship Clinic
  • A team of nurses with deep experience in caring for patients before, during and after surgery
  • A dedicated nurse navigator who provides convenient scheduling and directs patients and families to community resources, including speech therapy, nutrition advice and psychosocial oncology

With some of the leading head and neck oncology surgeons in your own backyard, backed by the region’s top multi-specialty team, there’s no reason to seek treatment away from home and family.

Scheduling Appointments

To make an appointment with an Ochsner head and neck oncology surgeon, call 504-842-4080.

Conditions We Treat

Ochsner otolaryngologists provide specialty care for patients with cancerous and noncancerous tumors in the head and neck. Conditions we treat include:

  • Benign and malignant salivary gland tumors
  • Neck masses (Benign/Malignant)
  • Thyroid nodules
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Hyperparathyroidism
  • Hoarseness
  • Dysphagia
  • Vocal fold paralysis
  • Anterior/lateral base of skull malignancies
  • Cutaneous malignancies
  • Oral cavity cancer
  • Oropharyngeal cancer
  • Nasal cavity cancer
  • Paranasal sinus cancer
  • Nasopharyngeal cancer
  • Laryngeal cancer
  • Hypopharyngeal cancer

Treatments We Offer

Successful treatment for head and neck cancer often involves surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or various combinations of the three. In addition to tumor removal, the goals of successful treatment include restoration of swallowing, eating, speaking and cosmetic/functional reconstruction when indicated. Our team performs the following procedures:

  • Laser Surgery of the Larynx and Upper Airway
  • Transoral Robotic Surgery (TORS)
  • Open and endoscopic skull base surgery
  • Resection of malignant head and neck tumors of the oral cavity, pharynx and larynx
  • Complex reconstructive surgery including free tissue transfer

In addition, our patients benefit from the following:

  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Dietary counseling
  • Speech therapy
  • Psychosocial oncology support

Causes of Head and Neck Cancers

At least 75% of head and neck cancers are caused by alcohol and tobacco use (including chewing tobacco or snuff). Infection with certain types of the human papilloma virus (HPV), especially HPV type 16, is a risk factor for some types of head and neck cancers as well. The good news is these cancers can be easily preventable and are very treatable if caught early.

Other risk factors for cancers of the head and neck include:

  • Paan (betel quid)
  • Preserved or salted foods
  • Poor oral hygiene and missing teeth
  • Occupational exposure to certain chemicals/substances
  • Radiation exposure
  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • Ancestry

Side Effects of Treatment

Patients with head and neck cancer often have to deal with unpleasant side effects. Please report any side effects to your doctor or nurse for a discussion on how best to deal with them. Depending on the treatment you receive, may experience the following:

  • Difficulties with speech, chewing or swallowing
  • Swelling of the face and neck may that usually goes away within a few weeks but may last a long time
  • Numbness in the neck where nerves have been cut.
  • Weakness and stiffness in the shoulder and neck if lymph nodes in the neck were removed,
  • Redness, irritation, and sores in the mouth
  • Dry mouth or thickened saliva
  • Changes in taste or loss of taste
  • Nausea
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Earaches
  • Swelling or drooping of the skin under the chin
  • Changes in the texture of the skin
  • Stiffness of the jaw

Clinical Trials/Research

Ochsner is always searching for new and better ways to treat head and neck cancers.

View a list of active clinical trials and research programs.

Second Opinions

A second opinion from one of the top head and neck surgeons in the region will give you reassurance that your diagnosis is correct and that you’re getting the right care. Call 504-842-4080 to learn more.


Referring Physicians

To refer a patient to the Head and Neck Surgical Oncology team, contact our nurse navigator, Daphne Black, BSN, RN-BC, at daphne.black@ochsner.org or call 504-842-7689

Explore Clinical Trials

Over 1,000 clinical trials
being conducted at Ochsner.

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